I returned from the RHS Cardiff Flower Show and then a few days in Shropshire over Easter and in my postbox was such a welcome package. Mixed perennial plantings indeed – the latest Dobies A4 ‘Perennial Plant Catalogue’ along with other smaller brochures, that I am still working my way through them! Even the free envelope for orders reminds me that Dobies of Devon flower seed is 42% cheaper than all other major seed suppliers – 49% for veg seed. I’ve always known that seed quality is excellent; savings are made by avoiding pretty pictures on the seed packets. Also included was a ‘Flower and Vegetable PLANT Catalogue’ for last minute decorative displays and catch crops plus another devoted to ‘Spring 2014 Garden Equipment’. A leaflet on grafted tomato plants for bumper crops, and a sachet of super food for super tomatoes.
Infilling available space
Where space is at a premium, the technique of mixed plantings, almost cottage-garden style, offers a sensible solution. A potager is one solution – although not a jumble, they can become a visual delight; a topic to be explored in future posts. Whilst converting to this mixed perennial plantings scenario, ground may not be ready to coincide with deliveries of veg plugs and potted plants. Utilise raised planters, as shown in previous posts, and transplant as needed.
Of course, it is possible that you are converting part of your veg plot to cut-flowers. So you will appreciate the way that Dobies have organised the Perennial Plant Catalogue, with similar plants grouped together. If, for instance, you love daisies, or daisy-like flowers, turn to page 38 where you will find a range of heights, colours and flowering season grouped together for ease of choice. This clever concept has been followed throughout the catalogue – reading the pages is an education in itself.
Gardening in harmony
I have a large garden, subdivided into plots each very different in nature. They have to work for me (and my husband). As we become older and less capable of gardening from morning to night, day after day, the nature of what we grow and how we grow what we like is changing. More mixed perennial plantings for sure; and more crops which might not be thought of as perennial are left to re-grow through the winter. One such is perpetual spinach and chard – once they become less palatable in the kitchen, they keep the hens fed with essential greenery. And spent plants feed the compost heap when we need the space for something else.
It’s not just about gardening in harmony with ourselves, but with nature. Obtain a copy of Tammi Hartung’s ‘The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener’ (or how to grow food in harmony with nature). Just released by Storey Publishing, it will encourage you to make wild-life part of your food-garden ecosystem. Mixed perennial plantings will boost such a concept, gardening to the natural rhythms and animal habits of your plot – discover positive steps to a healthier garden.